A while back, a pastor wrote me and asked for a little help with finding rest and balance in his busy ministry life. I wrote him back a letter something like this. (I think this could help Christian leaders in other settings as well)
“Thank you for asking about cultivating healthier rhythms of rest and balance in your life. It’s an ongoing place of growth and development for me as well, especially as a “recovering speed addict” (not the drug, but the wound-up inner pace of my heart at times). Maybe these thoughts will help:
- What does a weekly day off look like for you--a Sabbath-like day? Since the day of worship is a workday for you, are you getting some space on another day where you clear the schedule of all work, including work around the house? I know it sounds impossible, but this is the very place where Sabbath comes as a gift to us. (His yoke really is meant to be well fitting and not burdensome). This is how I understand the biblical invitation of Sabbath--not as a legalistic, Pharisee-driven "you can't" day, but a graced, refreshing "you don't have to" day. Maybe even one-in-seven…
- Instead of thinking day-by-day, consider thinking of a full week. I like to think of a week in terms of four-hour blocks. How many blocks per week do you intend to do the work of ministry? 48 hours would be twelve blocks; 52 hours are thirteen blocks, etc. If you work early morning through evening (say for a small group or board meeting), that's a three-block day. You should consider balancing that with a one-block day elsewhere in the week. You might be surprised at how many blocks of time you’re engaged in your work.
- Consider setting aside a block or two per month, during office hours (so as not to take from family) to do something with Jesus that you deeply enjoy. Reading? Cycling? Gardening? Visiting the beach? The key is that it isn't an activity measured by "got it done", but by rest, refreshment, fun, joy, peace and such.
- Are you finding ways to have time at home that isn't work? Playing a game as a family, going out to a favorite dinner spot, having an unhurried family conversation, something. Whatever wouldn't feel like more work for you is what I envision.
- Perhaps my book, An Unhurried Life, will give you other ideas. You might find the chapter on “Rest” especially helpful.
May you make every effort to enter into the rest God has for you (Hebrews 4:11). It’s a gift God continues to make available.